Who’s Calling? Not the Government.
How many of us pick up the phone, expecting to hear, “Hey, you owe me money. Now pay up – or else”? But that’s what’s been happening recently to people in the immigrant community. Those aren’t the exact words, and the caller claims to be from the government – but that’s the message people are getting: Send money. Or else.
Our friends at the Esperanza Center, part of Catholic Charities of Baltimore, spotted the scam. Several of their clients got texts and calls from someone claiming to be from a government agency – sometimes specifically from Immigration Service. (Which sounds like the real agency, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but isn’t.)
People heard different reasons why they might owe money to the government. Maybe they were supposed to pay for part of a “government-funded scholarship.” Or maybe they’re just told they owe money, plain and simple. But the caller always asked for money. Naturally, they asked for money to be wired or put on a rechargeable credit card. Both are the same as sending cash, with basically no chance of getting the money back.
Here are a few things to remember. The government will never text or call you asking for money. Even if you get a call that seems real, check it out. Look up the real number for the government agency and call to see what the story is. And be suspicious if anyone – no matter who they say they are – asks you to wire money, or load a rechargeable credit card. There’s no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to send money that way.